Volume 94, Issue 81

Thursday, February 15, 2001


Semotiuk leaves 18 year legacy

Ugly - but good enough

Semotiuk leaves 18 year legacy

By John Dinner
Gazette Staff

After 18 years at the helm of Mustang athletics and 14 Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union national titles, Dr. Darwin Semotiuk will be stepping down from his position of chair of athletics in June. Announced two weeks ago, Semotiuk leaves behind a legacy of championships and champions.

Why was now the time to step down as chair of intercollegiate athletics?

Oh, well I've done it for quite a while. Eighteen years is a long time. But what shouldn't be lost in this, is that this is a decision that takes me out of 40 years of involvement in university athletics, from my initial involvement at the University of Alberta as a student athlete. It's a decision on a 40 year career and it's one that I have enjoyed. I got to work in an environment of highly motivated, talented people, who like to work hard and achieve excellence, which in my view is what life is all about.

What makes being chair of intercollegiate athletics at Western special?

Well I've always been a great believer in balance, and this is one of the things that this position and this university has provided me with. The opportunity to balance the challenge of coaching, with athletic administration, with teaching, with research, and with other duties within the university. Not all universities can provide the opportunity and that has been the real attraction for me personally and one of the great strengths of our program – the ability to balance academics with high performance sports.

And frankly, I am quite predisposed to the model that we have here at this university, because I believe it is the right model – it sends the right message of recognizing the important role that athletics plays in the overall educational process.

Gazette File Photo

Over your years as chair of intercollegiate athletics, how has your role changed?

Number one, the personalities have changed obviously and I think the complexity of the program has changed. We are now dealing with larger budget numbers, more obligations, and we are dealing with changes which have taken place in the external environment, which force you to reassess and reconsider what you are doing internally and make the necessary adjustments to either be a follower or be a leader.

I would like to think our program over the years has been a leader rather than a follower. I think to a large measure because of the commitment of our student athletes and our coaches and administrative personnel we have defined the leading edge.

Do you believe you achieved all your goals as the chair?

Oh yeah, pretty well, but I believe there is always more someone can do but I believe there is value in change. I think the value will be in having someone step into this position with new perspective, and different focus. I think change is good for an organization.

What would you define as your proudest moment in your time in the university?

I would have to think about that, but I think it's a collection of a whole bunch of proud moments. I've seen people work hard towards a goal and achieve that goal, with winning national and provincial championships. Proud moments though, aren't just defined by championship banners, they are defined by the quality of people our coaches and our program produces.

I think that is the greatest sense of personal satisfaction for me. Going out and talking with one of my former football players, who also happens to be an outstanding orthopedic surgeon, speaking with another former player who is now vice-president of a bank. The success stories are something that this program can be very proud of, and I believe that some of the best ambassadors for this university come through our athletic program.

Now that you are stepping back from Canadian intercollegiate athletics, where do you see the future of the CIAU going?

I believe the CIAU to be in good hands, there are a lot of outstanding people out there that are committed to providing quality student athlete experiences, and I would say that all of them have it in proper perspective and proper balance in recognizing the athletic experience is part of the educational experience.

The philosophy that we have in the CIAU is a healthy one. There are challenges and the biggest challenge for Ontario, and for this institution, is to make a decision on student financial aid. Do we increase the number and value of the financial aid available to our student athletes, or do we try to compete without adjusting.

My own personal feeling is that you become less competitive if you follow rather than lead. On the other hand, the other thing that has to get balanced in there is how are you going to fund the program.

After 18 years Dr. Darwin Semotiuk is stepping down as chair of intercollegiate athletics, where he has demonstrated a passion for university athletics matched by so few. The Gazette would like to extend its appreciation for all the work you have done for our school. Good luck in all your future endeavours.

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